Aortic Valve Replacement: The Recovery
Several factors determine the length of time required for your recovery after the aortic valve replacement procedure.
- The patient’s general health.
- The chosen aortic valve replacement procedure, either transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) or open heart surgery.
Regardless of the procedure you undergo, do anticipate that you may be spending some time in the intensive care unit (ICU) or be moved straight away to a recovery room.
Your doctor will be able to explain in greater detail about what happens after the procedure to your family or carer. Some of the concerns you may wish to raise when you speak to your doctor prior to the procedure are:
- How long visitors are expected to wait before they can visit you
- How long you will have to spend in the hospital before you are discharged
Sue Gets Back to the Life She Enjoys
After undergoing TAVI to replace her heart valve, Sue was back on her feet in no time
Aortic Valve Replacement: Developing a Recovery Plan
After your valve replacement treatment, it is good to understand how to plan ahead to enhance your recovery path.
Engage your doctor in this discussion, and get his advice specifically on the need and precaution for diet, exercise as well as medication.
This is especially important if blood-thinning medication has been prescribed to you.
Consider asking your doctor the questions below to understand what to expect after your valve replacement:
- When can I resume my usual daily routines and activities?
- Is it safe for me to increase the level of my physical activity, and when can I do this?
- What activities should I avoid?
- Is it safe for me to start driving again?
Getting Care and Support
Bear in mind that every individual will have a different recovery experience after a medical treatment, including aortic valve replacement. Some may be required to stay in hospital up to a week but some may get discharged the next day. Similarly, while some people recover very well after the procedure and require little assistance to go about their daily lives, others may wish to have a little more help to feel comfortable.
It is helpful to initiate an early discussion with your family to plan for the care and support that you may require during your recovery period after the treatment based on your comfort level.
These are the things that may help you experience a worry-free recovery at home.
Following-up With Your Doctor
After undergoing your aortic valve replacement, your doctor will advise you on what to take note of during the recovery period:
- Take care of the incision site to ensure it heals well.
- It is natural to feel aches and pains after the procedure. If the situation is unbearable, there are medications that the doctor may prescribe.
- Regularly perform the breathing and coughing exercises that your doctor has advised. This will ensure that your lungs remain clear and to prevent complications.
It is important to continue to keep in touch with your doctor after the aortic valve replacement procedure to ensure that you are healing well. Do not miss any of the follow-up appointments scheduled either with the doctor who performed your procedure or the general cardiologist.
Above all, should you experience any new symptoms such as bleeding, pain, or other discomfort, immediately reach out to your doctor for further advice.
This regular communication with your doctor will allow him to properly monitor your condition and advise on additional care if necessary. In such cases, he may recommend cardiac care rehabilitation as part of the recovery plan.
To learn more about aortic stenosis, feel free to access the free tools and resources available here. Explore the treatment options in brochures, read about patient experiences, and watch videos about the procedure.
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Smith, Craig R. (2016, April 2). Transcatheter or Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement in Intermediate Risk Patients with Aortic Stenosis: Final Results from the PARTNER 2A Trial; ACC 2016.
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